Thursday, November 14, 2019

Small Butterwort - Pinguicula pumila

Flower
 Aptly named, small butterwort (Pinguicula pumila) is a very diminutive member of this semi-carnivorous plant genus. Occurring essentially statewide, it is found in nearly saturated acidic soils and supplements its diet by capturing small invertebrates on the sticky hairs found on its leaf surfaces. These leaves are slightly rolled up, elliptical in shape and only about 1 inch long. They are evergreen and slightly yellow green in color as they hug the ground surface. The distinctive foliage of all members of this genus make them relatively easy to identify even when the plant is not in bloom. Small butterwort, however, is so small that it is easily overlooked at those times.
Flowering occurs in almost every month in frost-free areas of Florida. This plant, photographed above in Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, was blooming in early October. The single blooms are held on 6-8 inch stalks and are about 1/4 inch wide. The color of the flowers is variable. While this one is a very pale lavender, they can be white to a much richer purple. They are pollinated mostly by small bees.
While many of our native butterworts are state-listed species, this is not as it is common in the right habitats. Where it occurs, it is also very common to find other carnivorous plants in association with it - especially sundews (Drosera spp.) and other butterworts. None of these are commonly available in the nursery trade and would be specialty plants for seasoned gardeners who can give them the very specific growing conditions they require. Look for them in wet acidic flatwoods, prairies and marsh edges and admire them if you are lucky enough to encounter them. 

A very poor photo of the basal leaves

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